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The Snow Man

The Snow Man

by Wallace Stevens

Stanzas 3-4 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 6-9

The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

  • We don't know about you, but Shmoop's running out of breath. Notice how we haven't come across a period yet? Spoiler alert: don't get your hopes up for one anytime soon. 
  • Instead, we get some more descriptions of how great winter is: spruces (a type of evergreen tree) and snow glittering in the sunlight, and then we have to settle for a semicolon.
  • What does that semicolon do? Well it tells us that what comes after is related to all the lines that have come before. So lines 7, 8, and beyond, are actually finishing the idea that was begun all the way back in line 1. 
  • So the gist here is, you have to have a mind of winter, and have been cold a long time, to look at all these beautiful wintry things, and "not think of any misery in the sound of the wind." Or in the sound of leaves, either, for that matter.
  • That means if you've got a mind of summer, if you're from, say Florida or something, you'll probably hear the wind and think, my goodness, what a bummer. 
  • But if you're in the right mindset, you won't project your feelings onto your surroundings in this way. We're thinking that's a good thing according to our speaker. 
  • See, you might start to think that if you are miserable and cold, that the cold wind is wailing, too. But it's not all about you, the speaker seems to say. Maybe the wind and leaves are jubilant, chock full of joy, dancing a jig. You just don't know. You're trapped in your own mind—you don't know winter's.

Lines 10-12

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

  • That "sound of a few leaves"? That's also the sound of the land, with all that wind blowing over it. Hey, where'd all the junipers and spruces go? Things have taken a turn for the desolate here.
  • But why? A minute ago, there were snowy trees and lovely winter scenes. Only now that we're in our winter-less head, things seem, well, awful. 
  • Hey, maybe that's the point. Stevens seems to be hinting at the importance of perspective here. Winter looks quite different to those with summer on the brain. In fact, it looks downright bleak.

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